Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Welcome to the Tween Years

I often find myself thinking back to the days when Dylan and Lexie were younger. When it was just them. I was a young mom who had two kids in two years. While all of my friends were in college or starting careers, I was thrown into a new lifestyle: raising babies.


I often felt very much alone, but at the same time, incredibly blessed. I remember looking at them and thinking about how Kindergarten was so far away. But I blinked, and it was time. At that point, the tween/teen years seemed a lifetime away. They were still babies. We had time.

Siblinghood Love

No falser words have ever been spoken! Time passed by so rapidly, and here we are. Dylan is less than a year away from becoming a teenager, and in less than a month, Lexie will hit double digits. To put it in a brutally real perspective, in 6 short years, Dylan will be heading off to college, and Lexie will follow 2 years later. Just thinking about it breaks my heart.

Tweens

Welcome to the tween years. 


I'm not prepared whatsoever, and I so often wish back the days when they were so little and innocent. It was much simpler then. Perhaps it's selfish of me, but these tween years are a whole new ballgame and it's a game that I'm losing! (Or maybe I'm just losing my mind?)

My loving, innocent children were replaced by mini adults who roll their eyes at me, mumble words under their breath, stomp out of rooms, and have strong opinions about everything. Five seconds later, they tell me how much they love me. WHAT is going on?

Dylan has a girlfriend and Lexie informed me that a portion of her HipHop dance for the recital involves twerking. Girlfriends? Twerking? I don't like this new reality and I feel lost. Thanks to activities and an active social life, I barely see Dylan these days. Lexie is busy, too, but she's more of a homebody. I MISS my kids. Take us back to when they were toddlers, PLEASE!

Perhaps the most difficult thing about the tween years is that they no longer believe in the magic of childhood. Oh, we try, but they know too much now. They are great, smart, loving kids but the selfish side of me just wants them to stay little. They are forced to grow up too quickly these days. Outside influence is now the thing we battle against the most.

We once worried about scraped knees, hurt feelings and bullies on the playground. Now there are so many unseen dangers that we have to think about. Drugs, alcohol, peer pressure, child predators, internet safety, the birds and the bees...the list goes on and on, and the worries build up in my mind.  Life was so much easier when they were younger!

It's important to let them live and learn, because that's how they are going to become functioning adults. It's just as important to be diligent about teaching them what is appropriate and what is expected of them. As parents, it's our job to shield them from the dangers of the world while they are young and to teach them how to be safe.

One of our biggest struggles right now is outside influence. So many of their peers have more freedom to do whatever they want, but that's not how we work. Yes, they get a little bit of freedom and are encouraged to make their own choices, but above all, we are a family unit, and we work together. There are just some things that they are not allowed to do, not allowed to wear and not allowed to have. If that makes us mean parents, so be it. They will understand one day. 


Motherhood
Childhood

Thankfully, one thing we don't have to worry too much about is what they are watching on TV! We rely on Netflix each and every day.  

WE control what they watch, and thanks to the recently watched feature and the different profiles, we can see exactly what they are watching. THAT is a parenting win!

Now that they are tweens, a lot of shows that they once loved are too "babyish" for them. It was definitely something to get used to, but we found plenty of shows on Netflix that have a grown up feel, but are appropriate for their age.

These are the shows that get Dylan and Lexie's approval (mom and dad's, too): 

Here are some great ideas of what to watch now on Netflix:


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“Witness the greatest act-OR of all time, obviously.”

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“Any show where cats are eaten must be a good thing.”
0b2d5fefd51479d2f2cdb13eb71edf63edf4f2cb
“The Galra Empire is almost as dreadful as I am… almost.”
ccd5c021944b9bbe7f0fbf220cca4e3e5965b5ce
“A jungle where everyone fends for themselves or dies. Sounds like a great place for the kids to visit.”
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“How treacherous must the alien world be to want to leave Earth. I must visit.”
f20ccf44c719aed9f25428b4348948a9a82a64a1
“I thought those Baudelaires were pesky twerps, but they don't hold a candle to Degrassi: Next Class.”
Our tweens and littles aren't the only ones who watch Netflix! Grant and I have a "Netflix Date Night" four or five times a week. We tuck the kids into bed and enjoy an hour or two of our favorite shows. 
This month was all about British Netflix Originals. We watched, and HIGHLY recommend, Lovesick, Peaky Blinders and The Crown.  Lovesick is a sweet comedy that's a quick and easy watch. Peaky Blinders and The Crown are amazing! The plot and the acting is superb in both. They are definitely two of our new favorites!
What are YOU watching on Netflix right now?

DISCLOSURE: I am a member of the Netflix #StreamTeam. I receive service and products in exchange for monthly posts. All opinions are 100% my own.

Welcome To the Tween Years

Monday, January 30, 2017

Learning To Love My (Four Times) Postpartum Body: Featuring PinkBlush

DISCLOSURE: I received this dress in exchange for my review. All opinions are 100% my own.

It happened so often. I would walk past a mirror, catch a glimpse of myself and cringe. My body just looked so much different than it did before I had kids. Four of them, to be exact.

PinkBlush

As a mom of two daughters in their formative years, I had to do my best to hide my disdain. I don't want them to catch on to any negative feelings I may have about the way I look. Even though I may not always love the way I look, I want them to love themselves just the way they are. It seems like a contradiction, but I work hard to suppress any bad thoughts I have about my body.

The root of my negativity was my teenage years. I truly believe it stemmed from having skinny older sisters who were always so critical about the way they looked. I always felt like I wasn't thin enough, so I set out on a path of not eating enough and exercising excessively.  That constant strive for perfection became a bad habit that was nearly impossible to break.

Now that I'm older and wiser, I have to laugh at the high standard that I set for myself.  When I was 5 months pregnant with Dylan, I was 5'6" and I weighed 105 lbs. Even though that weight was caused by Hyperemesis, AKA constant morning sickness, it became my goal weight. Looking back, only one thought comes to my mind: "WHAT was I thinking?!?"


Having children made me feel more positive about my body. For once, I had much more important things to worry about. Instead of a constant need to be really skinny, I just focused on eating healthy and getting the proper amount of exercise, and I loved the way I looked and felt.

My plan worked for so long, but the combination of being pregnant four times and not having as much time to exercise after having a 4th child caught up with me. Over the past year, I started to notice jiggly spots that never existed before, and the negative feelings started to creep back in.  I KNOW it's just a matter of making it a point to exercise more, but these days, I barely get an hour of alone time each day, and that's when I work.

As the days lengthen and the weather warms up, I will be able to spend more time outdoors running, but I needed a short term solution. I started to focus on finding forgiving styles that hid the spots that gave me grief, and along the way, I rediscovered my love for fashion, and I started to feel more confident about the way I look!

Learning To Love My (Four Times) Postpartum Body_ Featuring PinkBlush

A trendy online boutique that EVERY mom needs to know about is PinkBlush! At first, I thought PinkBlush just sold maternity clothes, but I was thrilled to discover that they offered a wide variety of non-maternity clothing, too. The best thing about PinkBlush is that the styles are very flattering and many of the styles can easily transition from pregnancy into motherhood!

I'm typically a jeans or leggings with a cute shirt kind of girl, and I found myself adding every other top to my wish list. They have an impressive variety of tops that are currently in style. But every mom deserves to feel pretty now and then. The dresses at PinkBlush immediately caught my eye. They are simply beautiful!

Pink Blush

I opted for the Royal Chiffon Colorblock Maxi Dress. It seemed like a very versatile style that could easily work for all seasons!

PinkBlush

I was not disappointed. The first thing I noticed when the dress arrived was the quality. The dress was surprisingly heavy and the color of the chiffon was stunning. When I put on the dress, I was pleased to find that it had a very flattering fit. It's definitely one of those styles that works for every stage of motherhood!

PinkBlush

In addition to maternity clothing and women's clothing, PinkBlush also offers active wear, sleepwear, robes, jewelry, shoes, hats, scarves, socks, sunglasses, bags, delivery robes, clothing for nursing, swimwear, and items for babies! I'm not going to lie...I have a ton of items on my Love List! Visit them HERE. You won't be disappointed!

PinkBlush

You can also find PinkBlush on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, and Instagram.

PinkBlush
PinkBlush


GIVEAWAY

Visit me on Instagram to enter to win a $50 PinkBlush gift card!

 

Thank you to PinkBlush for making me feel more confident in my after four kids body! I definitely feel my best when I'm wearing something pretty AND surrounded by the loves of my life! 

This is me. 12 years later, 25 pounds heavier, and incredibly blessed.
 
PinkBlush


Friday, January 27, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday from a once again wintry Pittsburgh! 


After weeks of unseasonably warm temperatures and continuous rain, winter made its comeback. I hate the cold weather, but I'm kind of relieved. It will be nice to get a break from the rain!

I may not be a big fan of rain or snow or cold weather, but there is plenty to love this week!

FRIDAY FAVORITES

{ONE}

My adorable sidekick! Seriously. Could he get any cuter?!? It's hard to feel negative about anything with this kid around!

 Mom Style

Liam's Tux - Koala Kids (Babies R Us) / My Shirt - Apt 9 (Kohl's

Mom Style Tip: If you're looking for leggings, check TJ Maxx first! They have an entire rack of so many styles and colors for just $5-$7 a pair. I just might have bought fleece-lined leggings, workout leggings and faux leather leggings.

{TWO}

I don't think I've ever shared my favorite perfume! Lolita Lempicka has been my favorite for over a decade. I ran out about a year ago, so I was so excited to find a new bottle under the Christmas Tree this year!

Lolita Lempicka

{THREE}

My post about raising special needs siblings was featured on Pittsburgh Moms Blog this week.  I just signed a contract to continue blogging there, and I'm really excited about the upcoming year!

Here's an excerpt:

"A few days ago, I read a post written by a person who ‘did not feel lucky’ to have a sibling who had special needs. Being a special needs mama, that headline was like a punch in the gut. Blog titles are carefully crafted to bring in as much traffic as possible, but this one had the capability to both hurt and draw people in at the same time."  
You can read the entire post HERE

The Lucky Few

{FOUR} 

It's no secret that I'm a huge fan of the Target Dollar Spot. I found this fun daily chart there last week and Lily has been filling it out every day!

Daily Chart for Kids

{FIVE}

Dylan's birthday gift finally arrived and it's a huge hit...for all of us! Although Dylan's the pro, the rest of us have been using it, too. (Except Liam. He just likes the flashing LED lights and the bluetooth speaker!)

 Hoverboard

{SIX} 

Just like so many other people, one of my goals for the year was to get more exercise, get more sleep, and live a healthier lifestyle. I don't drink a lot of coffee, but I am a tea lover. I am so excited to start the Bikini Babe Tea Detox!

Bikini Babe gifted me with the 14 Day Skinny Again Detox and the 14 Day Good Night Cleanse to get me started on the right track! The Skinny Again Detox, which is sipped every morning at breakfast, fuels weight loss, reduces bloating and speeds metabolism. The Good Night Cleanse, which you drink at bedtime every other night, improves digestion, fuels weight loss and promotes a calm, good night sleep.

I just started my "Teatox" but I will keep you posted on the results!

Bikini Babe Tea Detox

You can learn more HERE and HERE

{SEVEN}

My incredibly talented aunt loves to make things for my kids! They are always so excited when they receive a package in the mail. This month, Liam was the lucky recipient. Even though he's a big fan of the clown, I think the dragon cocoon blanket is incredible!

Crochet Dragon Blanket
Nothing Down About It

{EIGHT}

My favorite lotions are from Bath & Body Works. Every Christmas, my husband buys me a bunch of my favorite holiday scents. I always stick with just Vanilla Bean Noel and Winter Candy Apple, but this year I decided to branch out and try some other seasonal scents. I should be set until next Christmas! What's your favorite?

Bath & Body Works

{NINE}

I'm obviously late to the game on this one.  Liam had a cold a few weeks ago and his nose would not stop running. I finally caved and bought Boogie Wipes. I was always disgusted by the concept and I thought they would just be overpriced baby wipes, but I was so wrong! They are now a staple in my home!  

Boogie Wipes

And, oh, that cowlick... 

boogie wipes

{TEN}

What happens when you take your tween with you while searching for new winter boots? You end up with duck boots. Because apparently they are the coolest. In all fairness, they really are warm and waterproof, and that's all that matters!

15 years ago, I was embarrassed to wear similar boots at the stable, but now they're trendy.  Oh, how things change!

Duck Boots


I hope you all have a wonderful weekend! What are your plans?


Let's Connect!


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Our Winter Family Adventure with Fruit Shoot and Pizza Hut + 10 Questions To Ask Your Kids Today


This time of year is so blah. The holidays are over, the weather is cold, and many families are cooped up indoors with nothing to do. It's easy to understand why so many people dislike the winter months. This is definitely true for my family!

We spend so much time together during the holidays, and in January, it comes to an abrupt end. Everyone is busy with their own activities, and we are rarely together. When we are in the same place at the same time, it's usually because the weather has us trapped indoors.

Sometimes my entire family just needs to escape for a little adventure and reconnect! 

It's easy to fall into the hibernation trap, but it's so important to get out of the house before the winter blues strike! Since our time together is limited, we usually opt to go out to eat. A simple change of scenery can easily improve our mood, and an hour spent reconnecting is often exactly what we need!

Fruit Shoot

My family of six usually heads to our local Pizza Hut. It's family friendly, we all love their pizza, and they have quick service, which is a must for our busy lifestyle. An added bonus is that they serve my kids' favorite drink: Fruit Shoot

Fruit Shoot

My kids fell in love with Fruit Shoot the moment they first tasted it! This No High Fructose Corn Syrup/No Artificial Flavors juice drink comes in popular flavors such as Berry Burst, Apple and Strawberry & Raspberry. It is available in both no added sugar and made with real sugar varieties. My kids love the flavors and I love the fact that they are a much healthier option at 100 calories or less per bottle. Fruit Shoot can be hard to find, so my kids are always so excited when they find out we are heading to Pizza Hut!

Fruit Shoot
Fruit Shoot
Fruit Shoot
Fruit Shoot

What makes delicious food and treasured family time even better? The ability to give back while we eat! Until April 30th, 2017,  five cents of every bottle of Fruit Shoot purchased will be donated to the First Book literacy program. Not only do we love to give back, but we also believe in the importance of reading, so my family happily supports this great cause.

We usually purchase additional Fruit Shoot drinks on the way out the door. The sports cap makes it a great choice for kids of all ages, and thanks to the lid, it's the perfect on-the-go option!

Fruit Shoot
Fruit Shoot

When my family goes out to eat together, it's always an adventure! With four kids, there's literally never a dull moment. Even if it's loud and chaotic, we treasure those moments. Taking the time to reconnect during the busyness of everyday life is incredibly important for my family. Sometimes the simple act of going out to eat at one of our favorite restaurants can bring us together and make us forget all about those winter blues!

 Fruit Shoot
Fruit Shoot

My husband and I believe in making family a priority and we are working hard to pass on those values to our children. We believe in the importance of making each of them feel special and loved every single day, so we make it a point to ask our children the same 10 questions each day.  

10 Questions To Ask Your Kids Today
  1. What made you feel happy today?
  2. What made you feel sad today?
  3. What made you laugh today?
  4. What could you have done better today?
  5. Who did you play with today?
  6. Who did you sit with at lunch today?
  7. What are you looking forward to tomorrow?
  8. What are you dreading tomorrow?
  9.  What was one important lesson you learned today?
  10. What was the best moment of the day?
As many parents know, most kids aren't very open about their day, especially if they go to school. The details are often few and far between. Asking these questions each night gives valuable insight into your child's thoughts and feelings and a glimpse into the aspect of their life that you don't get to see!

My family loves to go on adventures together, even if it's just the simple act of going out to eat! Go on your own adventure and support the First Book literacy project by purchasing a Fruit Shoot product at your local Pizza Hut!


Find more information about Fruit Shoot HERE and HERE.
Learn more about the First Book literacy project HERE.

Thank you to Fruit Shoot for sponsoring today's post and inspiring us to step out of winter hibernation to go on a family adventure!

First Book

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Year of Color: White {BAKE / PLAY / CRAFT}

Welcome to the first monthly edition of A Year of Color!


A Year of Color Link Party

On the third Friday of each month,  I will be co-hosting a monthly linkup called A Year of Color with Little Dove, Macke Monologues, and Work It Mommy. Each month will focus on one color and you can link up any post that revolves around that particular color.  Fashion, Recipes, Activities for Kids, Crafts...ANYTHING is welcome! The link will be open for a month, so you can link up any time. We hope you will join us!

The color for the month of January is: 


A Year of Color Link Party

I had so many ideas go through my head for this month, but I decided to focus on a winter theme. I'm going to share a cute cupcake recipe, an easy and inexpensive winter craft, and a sensory play activity for kids. It's unusually warm in Pittsburgh this month, so we are finding other ways to enjoy winter!

Polar Bear Cupcakes


My mom is a baker so she is the one who always gets to wow my kids with her cute baked goods. My creations are seriously lacking compared to hers, but I was able to impress my kids with this one! (For now. My mom has plans to make polar bear cupcakes with Lily this weekend. I'm sure hers will put mine to shame!)

Polar Bear Cupcakes

When it comes to baking, I am all about easy. I don't have the time or the energy for complex recipes. This recipe is really simple and each cupcake only takes about 2 minutes to assemble.

Ingredients:

  • 1 box of white cake mix
  • White Frosting
  • White Cupcake Liners
  • Black Writing Gel
  • Brown M&M's
  • Cereal Rings (Fruit Loops, Cheerios)
 Polar Bear Cupcakes

Directions: 

1. Make the cupcakes according to the directions on the box and allow to cool. 

2. Cover the top of each cupcake with white frosting. Don't worry about making it smooth. Texture is good! 

3. Place a cereal ring (I used fruit loops) in the middle of each cupcake to form a nose and two at the top of the cupcake to form ears. 

Polar Bear Cupcakes

4. Carefully cover the cereal rings with white frosting.

5. Place a brown M&M in the middle of the nose.

6. Use the black writing gel to make two tiny dots above the nose for the eyes. 

So easy! 

Polar Bear Cupcakes

These cupcakes turned out really cute and went VERY quickly!

Polar Bear Cupcakes

My girls actually squealed when they spotted these cupcakes, which made this not so accomplished baker very happy!
Polar Bear Cupcakes

 

Two Ingredient Sensory Play Snow 


Sensory Play is very important in our home, and sensory snow is one of the easiest sensory play recipes to make! It can be whipped up in less than a minute. And when you can't experience the real stuff, this is a lot of fun. It's even cold!

2 Ingredient Fake Snow

Ingredients:

  • Baking Soda
  • Shaving Cream

Directions:

  1. Pour a 1 lb box of Baking Soda into a large bowl. (If you're feeling extra adventurous, quadruple the batch and pour it into an under the bed storage container!) 
  2. Squirt shaving cream into the bowl and mix the two ingredients together. Continue adding small amounts of shaving cream until you get the desired consistency. The "snow" should be crumbly but stick together when molded.
Fake Snow

Not only is Sensory Play Snow quick and easy to make, but the ingredients are inexpensive and you can control the amount.  Kids can play with a small batch and mold it into shapes, or they can use shovels and other sand toys in a bigger batch. This is one of my kids favorite sensory play recipes!

Fake Snow Recipe

 

Winter Snowball Banner


This easy craft is perfect for kids ages 5 and up (under supervision), is very inexpensive, and is a great addition to your winter home decor!

Winter Snowball Banner

Items Needed: 

  • Cotton Balls
  • White Thread
  • Needle
Snowball Banner

Directions:


1. Decide where you want to hang the banner and measure the length needed. Add 2 extra feet to allow for draping and tying.

2. Tie one end of the thread to the head of the needle. Tie the other end of the thread into a triple knot.

3. Thread the needle through the middle of a cotton ball, then use your fingers to push it gently to the other end. Tie the end of the string around the cotton ball. This will be the end piece.

Snowball Banner

4. Continue threading the needle through cotton balls and pushing them to the end of the thread until you have the desired amount.

Snowball Banner
Snowball Banner
Snowball Banner

5. Cut the thread and tie it around the cotton ball at the opposite end of where you started. Trim the ends of the thread on both sides.

6. Use your fingers to space out the cotton balls evenly.

Snowball Banner

7. Hang out of reach of toddlers and young children. Trust me on this one. This is a delicate banner and my toddler tornado took the cotton balls off the first one we made in approximately 30 seconds!

This craft is a lot of fun and all the threading helps strengthen those fine motor skills that are so important for so many tasks.

Snowball Banner

The snowball banner is quick, cheap and easy to make and it looks so cute hanging up!

Snowball Banner

It may not be white outside right now, but we had so much fun with these winter-themed activities!


Please join us for A Year of Color next month on February 17th!  February's color of the month will be:

A Year of Color Linkup

Link up your color white themed posts with us all month long! XOXO